Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out. (*)
When we read the step closely it becomes obvious that It is always somehow in contact with us. Our job is simply to become more aware of that contact.
Both prayer and meditation are age old methods of improving our awareness. Both are found in all spiritual traditions, although some emphasize one more than the others.
Prayer is asking
One way to define prayer is as “a devout petition to God or an object of worship.” (Dictionary.com)
The Step spells out exactly what we are to ask for when we pray – an understanding of what our Higher Power might want for us, that’s all. We’re not to beg or plead or ask for specifics, just to know what God’s will is for us.
I can remember complaining to my sponsor, “…but how will I know? How am I supposed to know what answer I’m getting to that prayer?”
He took a few moments and explained that when we’re in alignment we feel a “hum.” I had no idea then what he was talking about; today I figure if things are going well I’m probably doing what the Universe wants me to do. I recognize that “hum” he was talking about although I experience it more as serenity and calm than anything else.
Meditation might be called getting present
Dictionary.com defines meditation as:
“continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation.”
That works. So does the comment Rev. Guy Williams once made to a group I was in. ‘If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.”
There have been untold words written about meditation and how to do it. I spent a lot of years trying this and that. Finally, in yet another class, Rev. Kevin Bucy simply invited me (and the class) to set aside a few minutes every morning to read something spiritual. We were to read until something struck us as interesting or important or worth thinking about and then sit for a few more minutes thinking about or contemplating that.
That worked reasonably well, but my mind kept drifting. What I didn’t understand until I began to study Buddhism at the Sweetwater Zen Center that I came to understand. I was taught and experienced that my mind would drift – that’s what minds do. All that’s required when I notice my mind has run off to pay bills or wonder about the future or the past or whatever is to simply come back to the breath. The breath, in this case, is the “object” of my meditation.
Now I know that many things, including love, happiness, my anger, my gratitude, etc. etc. etc. can be an object of meditation. I also know that although the Buddhist certainly know a great deal about meditation they aren’t they only ones who do.
For example, the Sufis, the mystical arm of Islam, talk about remembrance which I learned from Mark Silver who runs Heart of Business. There are two mp3 files at http://www.heartofbusiness.com/2009/guided-remembrance/ that will give you a direct experience of this wonderful practice.
Christianity of course also has a long tradition of meditation that has gotten a bit lost to many these days. An overview of some of the Christian meditation traditions can be found at The Voice in the Stillness. There are many other sites.
American Indians have a meditation tradition as do the Hindu’s. In fact like all faiths, Hindu’s have a wide variety of meditation traditions.
The point is you can, if you’re willing, find a meditation technique or tradition that works for you. Dare to do some exploring and find what fits.
The power to carry that out
We begin in Step 1 admitting we are powerless; in Step 11 we ask for power to carry out our Higher Power’s will for us. Although we are not cured of our addiction we no longer practice it. We have been restored to sanity and begin once again to move in the world we were unable to move in while we were practicing. Now we practice abstaining and living life.
In a very real way we have come full circle.
Of course, there’s more. There always is.
How do you practice Step 11?
Love, blessings and abundance,